Kate Henderson of the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) tells HAmag.co.uk that inclusive planning can alleviate the housing crisis and help us move towards a fairer and more secure future for all.
The phrase “planning system” can often conjure images of an obscure, process-driven bureaucracy, with no relevance to everyday life. However, this was not always the case. The early pioneers of planning had very high social ideals, and the planning system originally grew out of a powerful recognition that the places in which we live have a huge impact on the quality of our lives – and a collective view that, as a society, we should aspire to create places in which everyone can thrive. Throughout the 20th century successive iterations of planning policy had social justice at their heart. Yet in recent years this focus appears to have been completely lost. National planning policy now seems to prioritise profit and economic viability over social justice and quality and we are often left with examples of the how poor planning decisions can have significantly detrimental effects on communities and lead directly to increased poverty.
We believe that this needs to change. In 2014, the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) published a ground-breaking report, Planning Out Poverty, which looked at the impact that planning decisions have had on the lives of people in deprived areas in England. Commissioned by the Webb Memorial Trust, the report highlighted the way in which a range of planning decisions led, cumulatively, to increasingly difficult situations for communities that were already struggling.
Now, as the ever worsening housing crisis looms over us all, we must once again ensure that people are placed back at the heart of the planning system; after all, who are we planning for? That is why the TCPA and Webb Memorial Trust have once again come together to reframe the debate about the future of planning. Together we have launched a new collaboration to bring about a major awareness-raising and educational programme aimed at re-creating social town planning and reconnecting with issues that matter to local people.
With the General Election and a new Government on our doorstep, we have a real opportunity to move on from the sterile debate around planning reform and deregulation and instead start to think about how to move towards the society we want. A recent YouGov survey for the Webb Memorial Trust found that the qualities that people most treasured are social ones such as fairness, security, safety, and tolerance. Planning needs to better understand these values and the new Government needs to place social justice back at the core of the planning system.
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